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Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Touch Soccer 3D (iPad)

I am a big fan of SD Games’ little racing title, Nano Rally. It is cheap and disposable, yes, but it’s also good fun, and the perfect remedy to some downtime. And that’s why I am so disappointed with Touch Soccer 3D. It’s a reasonable game, but it lacks the instant accessibility of Nano Rally.

Fancy footwork completely confused this guy


Touch Soccer 3D takes a crack at reducing 5-a-side indoor soccer into a dollar game. And in terms of gameplay modes, it has more depth than you’d expect. There are championship modes, leagues, challenges (where you need to achieve a certain condition within a certain time limit) and practice modes. It’s possible to play as just about every nation in the world, though all that does in effect is change the national flag - there’s no players or statistics to track.

The problem is that on the pitch, the game is too clunky to be much fun. The first mistake is the first person perspective. By default your player will automatically chase after the ball, but thanks to the first person viewpoint, it’s hard to tell when you have control of the ball. Dribbling, defending, passing and shooting for goal are all also quite clunky in this first person perspective.

Bend it like Beckham!


It gets really painful when you’re chasing a ball that’s gone behind you. Turning around isn’t the most seamless experience here. In fact, it’s downright motion sickness-inducing. With practice, you’ll get into a swing of things, and once you understand how to work with the game’s quirks, it’s quite entertaining (if hardly a complex experience - AI is not exactly intelligent here). It’s just that Touch Soccer 3D doesn’t kick off to a good first impression, which can be a killer for the instant accessibility required for $1 games.

Switching to manual run controls doesn’t do many favours for the game either. Yes, you gain additional control over your characters, but they move so slowly that it’s frustrating to chase after the ball.

On the plus side, Touch Soccer 3D is a good looking game. The characters are bright and cheerful, with a weird, Russian Babushka doll, look that is quite charming.

The menus and presentation, like they were with Nano Rally, are also top notch. I can’t help but wish there was some more development time spent with Touch Soccer 3D. At a slightly higher price with slightly more refined gameplay, this would have been a must have. Unfortunately, in a bid to create a cheap and disposable title, SD Games has come across something that doesn’t quite work at that price point.



Review: Touch Soccer 3D (iPad)
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